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Date: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Recent Safety Concerns
Please Read

Dear Students:

I am writing to inform you of three disturbing incidents that have occurred recently near the Grounds. Because of the circumstances, information was not available earlier to share with you, but I believe it is important that you are aware of these incidents so you can take steps to protect yourself and those around you.

All three incidents occurred off Grounds. In two of the incidents, both involving female students, it is possible that the perpetrator is the same. Based on the description in each of these two cases, police have reason to believe that the perpetrator (or perpetrators) blends in well with the student community. It is also possible that he was lurking in each area before the attacks, observing potential victims.

In the first incident, a University of Virginia student was sexually assaulted near Chancellor Street on Sept. 17 at approximately 1:15 a.m. as she walked toward her residence. An unidentified white male knocked her to the ground and assaulted her. The Charlottesville Police Department is investigating.

In the second incident, a University of Virginia student reported, through a third party, that she was inside an unidentified fraternity house shortly after midnight on Sept. 19 when she was pushed into the pantry by an unidentified white male. Two friends heard her screams and opened the pantry door. The suspect fled the house on foot. He is described as a white male between the ages of 18 and 20, approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall, 180 pounds, with medium-length light brown hair. At the time of the incident he was wearing a T-shirt and khaki shorts.

In the third incident, a student was punched in the neck and knocked to the ground at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 18 on Chancellor Street next to the Bank of America branch building. An African-American male, approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, jumped from a Ford SUV and punched the victim as he was walking home. It is believed that the attack was motivated by the student victim’s sexual orientation.

In the two incidents involving young women, police are suspicious that the perpetrator may have been waiting and watching for an opportune time to attack. As a reminder, it is important to pay attention to your surroundings. If you see someone acting suspiciously or whose behavior raises concern with you (observing others from the shadows, looking into windows), then do not hesitate to call 911. The police want you to call so they can check out the situation. You do not need to be facing a dire emergency to call 911. Take mental notes (what the person was wearing, exactly where you saw the person, the direction traveling) to help the police as much as possible.

Students can become targets for those who want to do harm. Perpetrators often come to areas frequented by students, especially in the late-night hours, looking for young people who are enjoying themselves and have let their guards down. As part of staying safe, please monitor your intake of alcohol, and please watch out for your friends who have been drinking. Do not leave them alone.

If you have any information on the incidents described here, please do not hesitate to call the Charlottesville Police at 434-970-3280 or Crimestoppers at 434-977-4000.


Allen W. Groves
Associate Vice President and Dean of Students
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Lampkin approved distribution of this message.

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  1. If I read this correctly, two of the assaults happened when the attacker came up the victim unawares while the victim was walking alone, late at night. Seems to me that (a) a gun would not have been much use in either circumstance (if the assault happens before the victim is aware of the attacker, what good is the gun?) and (b) the attacks could have been avoided altogether had either victim realized that walking alone on campus after midnight is not a good idea.

    As for the second assault, female victim was in a fraternity house "shortly after midnight." Would it be unseemly of me to suggest that she was probably consuming alcohol? In any case, she screamed, the guy ran, which is exactly what she should have done. And, again, in that circumstance, what good would the gun have done (particularly if she was intoxicated.)

    If anything, what I would take from this article is that the best thing a parent can do before sending a child off to college is to "arm" them with common sense. It's the one weapon that the government can't take away (though it's sad how often some people seem to surrender it voluntarily!)

  2. I teach at a college.

    I won't say which one.

    I have taught on college campuses since 1993 as a grad student, and worked my up through, first as adjunct faculty and then to full-time faculty at two different colleges.

    If my son were 18, and about to go to college, and it were practical for him to take a gun, yes, I would send him with one.

    I'm betting that the federal gun laws won't change in the next several years, so I'd probably get him a shotgun of some sort for home defense.

    He wouldn't be able to legally buy his own handgun ammo until he became 21, but could get shotgun ammo legally at 18.

    But that's only if he were going to live off-campus, and if he had demonstrated responsible, level-headed, and safe behavior with guns for years prior to going to college.

    He would also get some method of safe storage to go along with the gun, too.

    If he were going to live on campus, having a gun in most states would be a violation of the law, and a major headache to deal with.

    I will say this however. During my undergraduate days, I lived in dorms and eventually spent a year working as an RA.

    I personally knew four other students who kept handguns in their dorm rooms or carried handguns on their bodies every single day.

    And this was before any concealed carry laws existed in that particular state.

    One of the students was also an RA in the same dorm I worked as an RA.

    In two cases, the students showed me the handguns on their persons on the day they checked out of the dorm and left. Both waited until after I had signed their "check out inventory" and were free and clear before showing me.

    In the other two cases, students showed me the guns before I became an RA.

    Those are just the four I knew.

    There were others I "knew of" or had at least heard it reported by more than one person that Person X had a gun on campus or carried a gun with him.

    These students never caused any problems. They never pulled or fired their guns. They were never discovered or arrested by authorities. One was former military. Three were just "good old boys" from small country towns.

  3. I attend college now (without a gun), and there are many assault/rape issues. In fact, there is a "Rape Hill", that girls are specifically instructed to avoid after dark. After midnight, we travel in large groups, and the guys are expected to provide escort for the girls back to their dorms before returning to their own (its kinda built into the culture here).
    These tactics are very useful after dark and in preventing individual cases of rape and assault (its generally pretty difficult for one guy to rape or assault a group of people). Would a gun be helpful at all, however, should someone try? Not really, nor would I be inclined to shoot, because we could easily subdue him without shooting him.
    My primary concern is a school shooting. To be honest, the UT shooting shook me up a little, because I have a lot of friends who attend UT (occupational hazard of being from Texas). In this case, I would feel much more comfortable with a gun, and with proper training (as opposed to the occasional shooting activity, which is my meagre level of experience).
    However, seeing as suicide is the school administration's pet issue at the moment, I don't see guns being legalized on campus anytime soon. And, as far as I am aware, my college has never had a shooting before.

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